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tion of millions of fellow-subjects in every sea, proud to be citizens of this great empire, and to feel that its highest prizes arc open to them and to their children—the friendship and alliance of great nations now in their first germ—and let us not forget to add, markets which now annually consume thirty million pounds' worth of our goods. But we should lose something more valuable and indispensable—the esteem and honour of all nations, who have looked to us as the great colonizers of modern days, as the people who were to found an empire no less compact and firm than that of ancient Rome, no less brilliant and heroic than those scattered but ephemeral communities which bore to alien shores and barbarous tribes the meteoric light of Grecian genius and art. We should exchange the loyal devotion of willing subjects and allies for the deepseated antipathy of involuntary aliens, and should have the misery of reflecting that the contempt of some States and the hatred of others had been earned by our meanness and our cowardice.
We trust that a better fate is in store for us. The day may come when rich, populous, and self-dependent colonies, grown into nations, will claim a dissolution of partnership. When that day comes, let us part in peace. But till then, let us fulfil our appointed task, by laying carefully the foundations of civilised, peaceful, and friendly nations. Let us not inflict that wound upon our own social order and prosperity which would follow the abandonment of those great fields of enterprise, or that deeper wound on honour and good faith which would be struck by the desertion of the helpless and confiding.
Art. V.— T7ie Life anil Letters of Washington Irving. By his Nephew, Pierre E. Irving. 3 vols. London, 1862-3.
OF the three volumes as yet published of the 'Life and Letters of Washington Irving,' two only appear to have had the entire supervision of his nephew, whose name appears on the title-page. The third closes with a chapter containing some correspondence of the deceased author with an English family, introduced with the following note:—' These original letters and anecdotes were received too late to be incorporated in their proper place in this work, but have been considered too interesting to be omitted. There has not been time to communicate with Mr. Pierre Irving, that he might insert them.—E. P.' The reader is not informed on the title-page or elsewhere, so far as we have observed, to whom these initials belong, and the mystery of this kind of double editing must remain therefore for the present unsolved. In the mean time, as there are no indications ihat the work is about to be soon completed, and as, with the third volume, as much of the career of Washington Irving as is likely to have any special interest for English readers terminates, we have thought that our notice of the work before us should no longer be delayed.
Washington Irving was born at New York in 1783: the youngest of eight children (who grew up) of William Irving, an Orkney man, who settled in America in 1763. William Irving had served on board one of the English mail-packets between Falmouth and New York, during the war which ended in that year. He married a Falmouth girl, our hero's mother; and had it not been for the celebrity of his son, the world would probably have remained unenlightened as to his genealogy. But our author was pleased in after life at making the discovery that the Irvings of Orkney were a clan of very respectable antiquity : and. after sundry investigations he obtained through Mr. Robertson, sheriff substitute at Kirkwall (who had made a contribution on the subject to Mr. Dennistoun's interesting 'Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange'), 'a symmetrical and regularly attested table of descent, carrying his lineage through the senior representatives of the name to Magnus, of 1608, the first Shapinsha Irving,' through him 'to the first Orkney Irvine and earliest cadet of Drum, William de Erwin, an inhabitant of Kirkwall in 1369, while the islands yet owned the sway of Magnus V., the last of the Norwegian Earls,' and so, ultimately, to the famous 'secretary and armour-bearer of Robert Bruce.' * The far descended Orcadian, however, was in a humble condition of life: took to trade, in which he ultimately throve, and became established in New York in the revolutionary time.
Throughout the War of Independence William Irving demeaned himself as 'a true Whig;' and his wife shared his partisanship. The victorious American army entered New York just at the date of the birth of our author. 'Washington's work is ended,' said Mrs. Irving, 'and the child shall be named after him.' William was also attached to the religious persuasion of his old country, and became deacon of the Presbyterian Church.
* Mr. Pierre Irving says that this genealogy was prepared by its learned compiler, Mr. George Petrie, ■ without a break, from the facility afforded by the Udal laws of Orkney, which required that lands, on the death of an owner, should be divided equally among the sons and daughters, a peculiarity which led, in the partition, to the mention of the names and relationships of all the parties who were to draw a share.'—p. 4.
in New York. 'A sedate, conscientious, God-fearing man,' says his son's biographer, 'with much of the strictness of the old Scotch Covenanter in his disposition.' From which over-strictness followed the usual consequences. His children seem to have taken for the most part to something of Toryism in politics, and all but one strayed over to the Episcopalian fold in point of religion. Washington himself 'signalized his abjuration at an early age, by going stealthily to Trinity Church, when the rite of confirmation was administered, and enrolling himself among its disciples by the laying on of hands, that he might thereafter, though still constrained to attend his father's church, feel that it could not challenge his allegiance.' We must add, however, that this seems to have been a solitary instance of serious disobedience. The Irvings were, in truth, a most united and most loving family. As our concern with the distinguished writer relates chiefly to his literary history and English connexion, we must needs omit the household details with which the pages of the biography before us are naturally filled. Suffice it to say, that they afford a simple picture of unpretending, honest, family affection, such as is not often witnessed in this selfish world: brothers and sisters mutually helping each other through their very chequered lives, rejoicing in each other's successes, and mingling sorrow and counsel in seasons of distress, with scarcely a shadow of selfishness, or reserve, or jealousy, such as are so constantly found to keep family sympathies apart, even where the hearts remain fundamentally sound. 'Brotherhood,' says Irving himself, 'is a holy alliance made by God and imprinted in our hearts: and we should observe it with religious faith. The more kindly and scrupulously we obey its dictates, the happier we shall be.' His whole life, adds his nephew, was an exemplification of this doctrine. His father died in 1807, at the age of seventy-six; his mother in 1817, after her son had emigrated to England.
Washington, as might be supposed from his after history, grew up an imaginative, impressible child, with quick tastes and ready sympathies, and a strong predilection for almost everything in turn except steady work, for which, throughout life, he retained the most unmitigated aversion. But his most real and most abiding passion was for travel and maritime adventure. The mingled blood of Orkney and Cornwall spoke out in his earliest years, and continued to impel him to restless locomotion at an age when most men have long ceased to travel except by their fireside. 'How wistfully,' he says in the Introduction to his Sketch-Book, 'would I wander about the pier-head in fine weather, and watch the parting ships bound to distant climes I— with what longing eyes would I gaze after their lessening sails, and waft myself in imagination to the ends of the earth!' At the age of fourteen, says his biographer, this desire
'had nearly ripened into a purposo to elope from home, and engage as a sailor. The idea of living on salt pork, which was his abhorrence, was, however, a great drawback to his resolution; but with the courage of a martyr ho determined to overcome his dislike, and accordingly he made a practice of eating it at every opportunity. It was another part of his discipline, by way of preparing for a hard couch, to get up from his bed at night, and he on the bore floor. But the discomforts of this regimen soon proved too much for his perseveranco; with every new trial the pork grew less appetitiotis, and the bare floor more hard, until at length his faltering resolution came to a total collapse.'—Vol. i., p. 14.
In early life this passion for travelling was only partially appeased by the imperfect solace of long wanderings in the forest world which in those days covered what are now the populous, in some instances the half-exhausted, fields of New York and its Border States. The following extract from a letter which he wrote at the age of seventy strongly expresses the feeling produced on an American by revisiting, in old age, the scenes of his youth. One might almost fancy it dictated by Khizzer, the Oriental wandering Jew, after one of his recurring visits at intervals of five centuries—scarcely equivalent in the slow East to five decades of years in the West:—
'One of the most interesting circumstances of my tour (1853) was the sojourn of a day at Ogdensburg, at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River, where it empties itself into the St. Lawrence. I had not been
there since I visited it fifty years since All the country was
then a wilderness: we floated down tho Black Eiver in a scow; we toiled through forests in waggons drawn by oxen ; we slept in hunters* cabins, and were once four-and-twenty hours without food; but all was romance to me. Well! here I was again, after the lapse of fifty years. I found a populous city occupying both banks of the Oswegatchie, connected by bridges. It was the Ogdensburg of which a villago plot had been planned at tho time of our visit. I sought the old French fort, where wo had been quartered: not a trace of it was left. I sat under a tree on the site, and looked round upon what I had known as a wilderness, now teeming with life, crowded with habitations, tho Oswegatchie River dammed up and encumbered byvast stone mills, the broad St. Lawrence ploughed by immense steamers.
'I walked to the point where, with the two girls, I used to launch forth in the canoe, while the rest of the party would wave handkerchiefs and cheer us from shore; it was now a bustling landing-place for steamers. There were still some rocks where I used to sit of an
evening evening and accompany with my flute one of the ladies who sang. I sat for a long time on the rocks, summoning recollections of bygone days, and of the happy beings by whom I was then surrounded. All had passed away—all were dead and gone. Of that young and joyous party I was the solo survivor. Thoy had all lived quietly at home out of tho reach of mischance, yet had gone down to their graves; while I, who had been wandering about the world, exposed to all hazards by land and sea, was yet alive. It seemed almost marvellous. I have often, in my shifting about the world, come upon the traces of former existence; but I do not think anything has made a stronger impression on me than this second visit to tho banks of the Oswegatchie.'—p. 30.
We copy another bit of American scenery from his journals, because, besides the beauty of the language, it illustrates two of his tastes—the pictorial (he wanted at one time to turn painter, and always made artists his favourite associates) and the dramatic —which, however, he never had the opportunity of indulging beyond the limits of social theatricals, wherein he considered himself by no means a contemptible performer.* He had got to the brink of one of the famous 'terraces,' sea margins, of undivinable antiquity, which skirt at some distance the southern shore of Lake Ontario:—
* I found myself on the brow of a hill, down which the road suddenly made a winding descent. Tho trees on each side of the road were like the side scenes of a theatro; while those which had hitherto
* Irving was a constant votary of the theatre in England in his early days, and, when he could find the opportunity, in America. He used to describe with much humour a scene between the audience at New York and Cooke in his tipsy days. 'He was to play Shylock and Sir Archy MacSarcasm. He went through Shylock admirably, but had primed himself with drink to such a degree hefore the commencement of the aftenpiece, that he was not himself. His condition was so apparent that they hurried through the piece, and skipped and curtailed, to have the curtain fall, when, lo! as it was descending, Cooke stepped out from under it, and presented himself before the footlights to make a speech. Instantly there were shouts from the pit, "Go home, Cooke; go home; you're drunk. Cooke kept his ground. "Didu't I please you in Shylock?" "Yes, yes; you played that nobly." "Well, then, the man who played Shylock well could not be drunk." "You weren't drunk then, hut you are drunk now," was the rejoinder; and they continued to roar, " Go home; go home: go to bed." Cooke, indignant, tapped the handle of his sword emphatically, "'Tis but a foil;" then, extending his right arm lo the audience, "'Tis well for you it is;" and marched off amid roars of laughter' (vol. i., p. lfil). In aftertimes he used to takeoff the stately ways of Mrs. Siddons. His first interview with her (after the appearance of the 'Sketch-Book') 'was characteristic. As he approached and was introduced, she looked at him for a moment, and then, in her clear and deeptoned voice, she slowly enunciated, "You've made me weep." Nothing could have been finer than such a compliment from such a source; but the "accost" was so abrupt, and the manner so peculiar, that never was modest man so completely put out of countenance' (vol. i., p. 89). He felt so enthusiastic about Miss O'Neill, that he paid her the strange compliment of declining to be introduced to her, 'unwilling to take the risk of a possible disenchantment.'